State lawmakers are facing some challenging issues when the 2019 legislative session gets underway Monday in Olympia. John Sattgast reports from the state Capitol.
SATTGAST: One of the most serious issues facing lawmakers during the scheduled 105-day session is the issue of mental health. Among the problems: A lack of beds, mental health patients housed in jails, decertification of Western State Hospital, and a series of assaults and safety issues.
Representative Joe Schmick of Colfax is the ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. During a legislative preview at an Associated Press forum in Olympia Thursday, he said early intervention and community treatment centers are needed.
SCHMICK: “I think we also need to be, make sure that we’re focused on every community across the state. And that we make, make it better and make it safer in those communities. Because I don’t think the people feel safe. Again, we need a plan.”
SATTGAST: House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox says the state’s mental health system is in crisis and is only getting worse.
WILCOX: “We can do our part. The Legislature is here to do money. It’s here to do policy. But I think we somehow have to have a partnership with the executive branch so that when we have those inputs, we have good execution by competent people.”
SATTGAST: Other issues to tackle during the coming session include homelessness, education funding and creating an operating budget that funds state government for the next two years. The legislative session begins at noon Monday. John Sattgast, Olympia.